Posts Tagged ‘time


The music of the angels is the Expression of Eternity as against Time

‘If temporality has a beginning and an end, what was this beginning and what will be the end? And what is before the beginning and after the end?… The questions are metaphysical and the answers therefore equally so. But the essence of the myth, or belief is a conception of Time as finite – that is with a beginning and an end, what I have called temporality – and this finite Time is then set against God’s Eternity… Time only began with the Creation, and will end with it. God is in Eternity, not Time…

In a sense the dialogue between God and the world is the dramatization of the metaphysical relationship between Eternity and Time. And the music of the angels is part of the expression of this drama – as indeed the angels themselves are important actors in the drama. So that keeping these two aspects of dialogue and relationship in mind we can say that, in the history of God’s dealings with man, the next most dramatic moment after the Creation of the universe and Time was the irruption of Eternity into Time through the birth of Christ as God and man. This inexpressible moment of the divine drama – inexpressible by man that is – was actually expressed by the simultaneous appearance of the angels to the shepherds. What the angels then sang was the expression of a minute vision of Eternity…

… the angels do not really enter the scheme of Christian redemption, their function remains what it always was, the everlasting worship and praise of God, not in Time, of course, but in Eternity… it is all a metaphor. The music of the angels is the expression of Eternity as against Time’ (Michael Tippett, Music of the Angels, 1964).





Erich Fromm on the Shabbat & Messianic Time

From Fromm’s ‘To Have or To Be?’ (1976):

‘The Shabbat is the most important of the biblical concepts, and of later Judaism. It is the only strictly religious command in the Ten Commandments: its fulfilment is insisted upon by the otherwise antiritualistic prophets; it was a most strictly observed commandment throughout 2,000 years of Diaspora life, wherein its observation often was hard and difficult. It can hardly be doubted that the Shabbat was the fountain of life for the Jews, who, scattered, powerless, and often despised and persecuted, renewed their pride and dignity when like kings they celebrated the Shabbat. Is the Shabbat nothing but a day of rest in the mundane sense of freeing people, at least on one day, from the burden of work? To be sure it is that, and this function gives it the dignity of one of the great innovations in human evolution.

Yet if this were all that it was, the Shabbat would hardly have played the central role I have just described. In order to understand this role we must penetrate to the core of the Shabbat institution. It is not rest per se, in the sense of not making an effort, physically or mentally. It is rest in the sense of the re-establishment of complete harmony between human beings and between them and nature. Nothing must be destroyed and nothing be built: the Shabbat is a day of truce in the human battle with the world. Even tearing up a blade of grass is looked upon as a breach of this harmony, as is lighting a match… On the Shabbat one lives as if one has nothing, pursuing no aim except being, that is, expressing one’s essential powers: praying, studying, eating, drinking, singing, making love. The Shabbat is a day of joy because on that day one is fully oneself.

This is the reason the Talmud calls a Shabbat the anticipation of the Messianic Time, and the Messianic Time the unending Shabbat : the day on which property and money as well as mourning and sadness are tabu; a day on which time is defeated and pure being rules. The historical predecessor, the Babylonian Shapatu, was a day of sadness and fear. The modern Sunday is a day of fun, consumption, and running away from oneself. One might ask if it is not time to re-establish the Shabbat as  a universal day of harmony and peace, as the human day that anticipates the human future.

The vision of the Messianic Time is the other specifically Jewish contribution to world culture, and one essentially identical with that of the Shabbat. This vision, like the Shabbat, was the life-sustaining hope of the Jews, never given up in spite of the severe disappointments that came with the false messiahs, from Bar Kochba in the second century to our days. Like the Shabbat it was a vision of a historical period in which possession will have become meaningless, fear and war will have ended, and the expression of our essential powers will have become the aim of living’.


The 32nd Path: Time, stars and the eternal

Reflecting on the 32nd Path (Malkuth-Yesod) and its association with time, with Saturn/Cronus as ‘Old Father Time’. Recently this composite photograph of the sky was released from the Planck space telescope showing remnants of light from the birth of the universe more than 13 billion years ago. An unfathomable depth of time.

“How, then, should we face the future? When the sailor is out on the ocean, when everything is changing all around him, when the waves are born and die, he does not stare down into the waves, because they are changing. He looks up at the stars. Why? Because they are faithful; they had the same location now that they had for our ancestors and will have for generations to come. By what means does he conquer the changeable? By the eternal. By the eternal one can conquer the future, because the eternal is the ground of the future, therefore through it the future can be fathomed” (Soren Kierkegaard, Edifying Discourses).